Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
Many people find themselves disappointed with a visit to Casablanca, Morocco. They are expecting to experience the same exotic adventures of Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in the classic film of the city’s namesake. Actually, Casablanca the movie was filmed between a few locations in Arizona and California. Despite it's lack of movie history sight-seeing opportunities, Casablanca has a lot to offer the traveling tourist.
The first awe-inspiring attraction is the Hassan II Mosque. This magnificent structure doesn’t just sit at the water’s edge; it partially sits over it. Building of the mosque was completed in 1993, and has some impressive stats as far as Islamic houses of worship go in the world.
Facts About Hassan II Mosque
It is the third largest mosque in the world settling in just behind Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
The mosque’s minaret, however, is the world’s tallest rising to 689 feet.
Approximately half the Hassan II Mosque sits directly over the Atlantic Ocean with glass flooring so worshippers can see the ocean below.
The mosque can hold a total of 105,000 worshippers, with space for 25,000 worshippers directly over the water.
The mosque’s over water design was the desire and dream of King Hassan II of Morocco who was inspired by a quote in the Quran: “His was over the waters” [Hud, 11:7], meaning the throne of Allah.
The mosque was designed by Michael Pinseau, a French architect, and includes modern features such as heated floors, electric doors, and a retractable roof. Additionally, the mosque was built to withstand earthquakes which are not uncommon in Morocco.
At night, the minaret shines a light in the direction of Mecca, the same direction Muslims face when they offer their prayers.
Originally scheduled to be completed in three years time, it actually took over 12,500 construction workers and artisans 7 years to complete the mosque.
With the exception of Italian chandeliers and white granite columns, the rest of the building materials were obtained from Moroccan resources.
Many mosques in Morocco are not open for non-Muslims to enter. However, interested visitors can take a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque, but this the only way for a non-Muslim to view the interior space. The tour includes views of the prayer halls, the Turkish bath and hammam, as well as the open sky view from the retractable roof. The tour also gives visitors the opportunity to see the exquisite tile work and decorative detailing up close.
The Hassan II Mosque alone makes Casablanca a worthwhile addition to any Moroccan travel itinerary.